This story could easily be mistaken as a family-friendly version of "Breaking Bad,": a family man battling a debilitating disease decides to leave everything behind, sell his businesses, and recruit his family members to establish a makeshift lab in his garage, in hopes of inventing fairy dust that will cure him. But this story takes place in Kibbutz Yifat in northern Israel, instead of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Attorney Michael Pinchas Or (53) and his son Yonatan (29) are the brains behind the Israeli startup Beyond Oil, which is now entering the American market. The product is a filtering powder added to used frying oil to restore its usability for up to 60 days.
The unique filter powder eliminates the Free Fatty Acids generated in your oil, alongside other harmful components, and keeps the oil quality stable, clear and clean. Beyond Oil is a "serious game-changer for the junk food industry," according to Professor Nissim Garti from the Hebrew University.
Many restaurants and food factories often reuse their frying oil multiple times to save costs and minimize complex logistics. Despite health regulations requiring the oil to be filtered daily and kept free of food residue and previous fryings' debris, there is no explicit instruction to replace the oil unless it starts to burn or produce foam.
At Beyond Oil, realized that restaurants and manufacturers tend to replace the oil in fryers every three days on average because it is a relatively expensive ingredient, especially in the fast-food or frozen food industry that produces bulks. However, during high-temperature frying, free fatty acids are released from the oil, leading to the development of polar compounds, acrylamides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that harm healthy cells in the body and are directly responsible for the formation of inflammation. These substances have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, types of cancer, such as breast and pancreatic cancer, heart diseases, and other chronic illnesses. This is particularly concerning considering that the fried food we consume is composed of 10-15% absorbed oil.
Beyond Oil's powder is supposed to neutralize these substances when added to the used oil, and according to a critical review by Professor Garti, based on an experiment conducted by the company over four days in a restaurant in Israel, the levels of polar materials and acrylamides in the used oil after a Beyond Oil treatment dropped to levels that were almost undetectable.
There are currently several powder products for filtering frying oil on the market, but according to Professor Garti, Beyond Oil's formula allows food manufacturers to offer "safer and healthier products to their customers, reduce the risk of serious illnesses, and improve the overall health of the population.
"In my opinion, based on my extensive experience in the frying industry, there is no doubt that by using Beyond Oil's filtering powder, we can directly impact the reduction of mortality and diseases and make the world a healthier place for everyone," added Garti.
"This is a contribution that I didn't think I would be able to bring to the world anymore. After all, I came back from the dead," Or said referring to his stroke and gastroesophageal reflux disease from which he suffered all his life. The same disease, which causes acidic reflux, prompted him 15 years ago to put everything aside, open a lab in his backyard, and invest over 30 million shekels in the company over the years.
"I suffered from a severe case of reflux, and I simply couldn't eat any slightly acidic food," he recalled. "I'm not talking about tomato sauce, which is known to be highly acidic, or junk food, I'm talking about a drop of coffee that would cause my entire esophagus to burn, and it was felt all the way to my throat. It greatly affected my life for 30 years, and based on doctors' advice, I took every medication available in the world, extracts, and whatnot," he said.
"Nothing helped, and the condition got worse and worse until at the age of 40, I couldn't speak anymore because my esophagus was completely burned, my vocal cords were filled with cysts, and my stomach suffered from chronic inflammation. The doctors told me that the next stage would be esophageal cancer, and at that point, I said enough, I'm stopping my life and creating a solution."
Or, who previously worked in the fashion industry, shut down his two clothing factories and the clothing company Clementine, that he had founded, and set up a makeshift lab in his garage. He hired researchers and doctoral students who were studying esophageal cancer and started studying the field himself.
The product for cleaning used oil was founded by chance. "One day, they brought us excellent extra virgin olive oil with an acidity of 4.2%," Or said, "The lab technician immediately told me, he thought we had been fooled and must return the oil, but I insisted that we try to reduce its acidity. We used Beyond Oil's formula and sent it to the lab. It turned out that it succeeded in reducing the acidity without compromising the quality of the oil, which remained excellent. That's when I realized we were onto something."
According to Or, ever since he started using the oil filtered by the powder, he completely healed. "The cysts on my vocal cords disappeared, my speech returned, test results showed that the inflammation in my esophagus vanished, and my medical record was as if it had been rewritten."
Serving as the company's president, Or recruited prominent names to the board of directors, but no less important to him was to appoint his son Yonatan, whom he described as a partner throughout the entire journey, as the CEO of the company. Today, Beyond Oil is traded on the Canadian stock exchange, and its patented product is sold in Israel through Fandango, a company that provides collection and recycling services for frying oils to over 8,000 restaurants, event halls, and hotels.
What is their economic interest in switching to your product? Yonatan Or, the company's CEO, replied, "In addition to providing consumers with healthier and higher quality food, the powder allows for extending the lifespan of frying oil, thus reducing costs while maintaining the quality of the oil and the fried food over time. There is also an environmental element: reducing the consumption of oil and the disposal process, which has a wide impact. So our product creates a win-win-win situation: health, sustainability, and economic profitability."
Their next challenge? Drinking water. "People have already approached us regarding the oxidation of well water," said Michael Pinchas Or.
In impoverished and densely populated areas around the world that rely on wells, there is a worsening trend of toxic arsenic contamination in the water. "It's a very serious problem in India; they drink the water and die," he explained. "And even in Israel, there is lead in the water. Our water is well-treated, but there are old neighborhoods with outdated infrastructure and pipes with corrosion, where people suffer from cancer without even knowing it. Our powder absorbs all metals, including arsenic. So we're starting with oil, but will continue to the next venture - water."